Saturday, December 25, 2004

Luxury train on track in Karnataka

Luxury train on track in Karnataka
The Times of India

Bangalore: This is more than a bit of ‘chugging’ news for Karnataka tourists: a luxury train is set to hit the tracks in November 2005. Based on the highend Palace-on-Wheels model, the cost, however, is expected to be ‘reasonable’.

The train, to operate throughout the year, will have 18 coaches including 11 air-conditioned salon cars; one air-conditioned bar car; one conference car; one air-conditioned restaurant car; one staff car; two power cars.

The Rs 32-crore project will be funded (up to 50 per cent) by state government through KSTDC; 25 per cent by the railway ministry and the rest by tourism ministry. An MoU was signed between Karnataka and the railway ministry earlier this week. It will be placed before the KSTDC board for approval.

“The glitch was costsharing of the two power cars (costing Rs 2.4 crore) for running the train’s airconditioning. Now, the railway ministry and KSTDC have agreed to share the cost,’’ tourism commissioner Mahendra Jain said.

The Integral Coach Factory will build the coaches.
The train will be owned by the government, though KSTDC is keen on inviting a private operator for promoting, marketing and operating the project. “This will not only reduce KSTDC’s initial investment burden, but will also bring in additional private investment and expertise. This, of course, will be decided by the board.’’

It is for this reason that KSTDC is yet to decide on the fares. “If a private operator is brought in, then other factors will be involved. But we want to keep it reasonable so that it does not hinge only on high-end or foreign tourists,’’ Jain said.

While Gujarat’s Royal Orient is reportedly not doing too well, Maharashtra’s Deccan Odyssey runs with 50 per cent occupancy — a figure which dipped below 10 per cent on one occasion. Only Rajasthan’s Palace-on-Wheels has made profits. All these charge between $240 and $485 (per person/day) for the 7-day trip.


Journey begins: Bangalore First stop: Mysore (Palace, museums, Chamundi hills, KRS, Srirangapatna) Second stop: Hassan (Shravanabelagola, Belur and Halebid) Third stop: Hospet (Hampi) Fourth stop: Gadag (Jungle safari, river cruise, water sports) Last, but not least: Goa (Londa, Madgaon)


Rajasthan’s Palace-on-Wheels: $240-$485 Maharashtra’s Deccan Odyssey: $240-$485 Gujarat’s Royal Orient: $132-$350 Heritage Fairy Queen: Rs 10,000 (1 night/2-day trip from Delhi to Sasrika palace. Operates twice a month, and during selected months)


All rates per person/day, except the last. The first three tours last seven days. Price variation due to single/double/triple occupancy and peak/off season rates. Tariffs include meals, sightseeing, entry fees, rides and cultural programmes.


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